Ted Thompson understands the toll of failure


Nick Collins, a second-rounder, has been one of Ted Thompson's best picks. He's congratulated here by another defensive back from another Packers championship team, LeRoy Butler. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Nick Collins, a second-rounder, has been one of Ted Thompson’s best picks. He’s congratulated here by another defensive back from another Packers championship team, LeRoy Butler.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph


Mike Vandermause over at the Green Bay Press Gazette this week completed an interesting look at Ted Thompson‘s body of work – namely the draft history of the Green Bay Packers under his reign.

What it shows, first and foremost, is that he loves to draft the big guys on both sides of the line. Over the course of his time in Green Bay, Thompson has drafted 17 offensive linemen and 14 defensive linemen, followed closely by 13 linebackers.

But skill players haven’t been forgotten by Thompson. He always seems to find pass-catchers for his quarterbacks. He’s demonstrated that by having drafted 11 wide receivers and eight running backs. He’s drafted just five quarterbacks – clearly because he hasn’t had the need to do so.

The full list also illustrates the volatility and uncertainty that comes with every draft. The risk of it all is what makes it fun, but it’s also what leads to failure many times.

To put it bluntly, the NFL Draft is a crapshoot. One just never knows what will happen, when it will happen or how it will happen.

That considered, Thompson has been steady with his picks. They have ranged from the dynamic (Clay Matthews) to the utter failure (Justin Harrell). But find me an NFL general manager who hasn’t had similar results and I’ll trade you my entire draft (if I were a GM, that is).

Thompson’s drafts have built one championship team and continues to stock a perennial winner. We can exclaim the picks of Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Eddie Lacy, David Bakhtiari, Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde; but on the flip side, there are plenty of players who came to camp and ultimately turned

Eddie Lacy pounded and spun his way to more than 1,100 yards as a rookie. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Eddie Lacy pounded and spun his way to more than 1,100 yards as a rookie.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

around and left. In addition to Harrell, here are a few more:

• Safety Marviel Underwood

• CB Brandon Underwood

• Safety Jerron McMillian

• CB Pat Lee

• LB Abdul Hodge

• QB Ingle Martin

… and maybe even Derek Sherrod.

Thompson appeared fatigued, if not ill, at last Thursday’s pre-draft press conference. He did show a bit of a lighter side at times and answered the majority of the questions like he always does … by saying little.

But he did reveal some vulnerability in describing his leadership role – a responsibility he takes seriously, while also understands that failure comes with it.

Judging by the list that Vandermause put together (see below or visit here), there have been many more misses than hits along the way. Thompson admitted Thursday that the process is far from perfect, but it’s the best system we have at this time. He will continue to be the man in the spotlight and the man with the “inside information” over the course of the draft weekend.

Thompson said he prays every year that he has the wisdom to once again deliver a successful draft of new players to better the team.

The fans are with him in that prayer circle.


Ranking Packers general manager Ted Thompson’s draft picks by position:

By Mike Vandermause


1. Nick Collins (2nd round, 2005): Became immediate starter as a rookie and earned three consecutive Pro Bowl berths in 2008, ’09 and ’10 before suffering serious neck injury.

2. Morgan Burnett (3rd, 2010): Started four games as a rookie before blowing out his knee, then returned to start all but three games the past three years.

3. Aaron Rouse (3rd, 2007): Started 10 games during two-plus seasons but was a disappointment as 89th overall pick.

4. Tyrone Culver (6th, 2006): Played 14 games but never started in one season with Packers.

5. Jerron McMillian (4th, 2012): Regressed from Year 1 to Year 2 and Packers took unusual step of cutting him in middle of second season.

6. Marviel Underwood (4th, 2005): Despite being taken 115th overall, lasted just one season in NFL.


1. Micah Hyde (5th, 2013): Late-round steal is extremely versatile and athletic, capable of playing cornerback and safety.

2. Casey Hayward (2nd, 2012): Rookie of year candidate (six interceptions) would be at top of list if not for lost second season due to hamstring injury.

3. Davon House (4th, 2011): Played all 16 games last season including five starts after limited early career production due to injuries.

4. Will Blackmon (4th, 2006): Greatest contribution in four seasons came as return man (three career punt return touchdowns).

5. Pat Lee (2nd, 2008): Major disappointment as 60th overall pick in part due to injuries that limited him to 32 games (one start) in three seasons.

6. Brandon Underwood (6th, 2009): Played in 23 games over two seasons, mostly on special teams, but never got to next level.

7. Mike Hawkins (5th, 2005): Drafted for speed and raw talent but lasted only one season (11 games, one start) with Packers.


1. Clay Matthews (1st, 2009): Packers traded up to land him in one of Ted Thompson’s boldest and best moves.

2. A.J. Hawk (1st, 2006): The fifth overall pick isn’t flashy but is as reliable as they come having missed just two starts in eight years due to injury.

3. Desmond Bishop (6th, 2007): Rode bench for three seasons before becoming solid starter and significant contributor on the Packers’ Super Bowl-winning team.

4. Brad Jones (7th, 2009): The 218th overall pick made transition from outside to inside where he earned a starting job and lucrative new contract.

5. Brady Poppinga (4th, 2005): Serviceable starter for three of his six seasons in Green Bay.

6. Nick Perry (1st, 2012): Slowed by injuries but made 15 starts during first two seasons with six career sacks.

7. D.J. Smith (6th, 2011): Started nine games in first two seasons before Packers abruptly gave up on him, in part because of his size and 2012 knee injury.

8. Nate Palmer (6th, 2013): Appeared in eight games with two starts and 18 tackles as rookie but still developing.

9. Abdul Hodge (3rd, 2006): Major disappointment as 67th overall pick, played in eight games with Packers with one start.

10. Sam Barrington (7th, 2013): Played in seven games as rookie, exclusively on special teams.

11. Terrell Manning (5th, 2012): Played in five games as rookie but got cut at end of his second training amp.

12. Ricky Elmore (6th, 2011): Never made it out of first training camp with Packers.

13. Kurt Campbell (7th, 2005): One of just two draft picks in Thompson’s first year as GM who didn’t make the team.


1. B.J. Raji (1st, 2009): His production tailed off last season but has been entrenched as starter since 2010 and made Pro Bowl in 2011.

2. Johnny Jolly (6th, 2006): Missed three full seasons (2010-12) because of a drug-related suspension but managed to return and regain starting job last year.

3. Mike Daniels (4th, 2012): Started one game in first two seasons but showed enormous promise last year in subpackages.

4. Mike Neal (2nd, 2010): Drafted as defensive lineman but used most effectively as outside linebacker, where he started a career-high 10 games last season and produced five sacks.

5. Dave Tollefson (7th, 2006): Spent one season on practice squad but never played for Packers. Spent five years with Giants and was part of two Super Bowl title teams.

6. C.J. Wilson (7th, 2010): Made 11 career starts in first three seasons, plus three playoff starts, but fell out of favor in 2013 and played only eight games.

7. Datone Jones (1st, 2013): Stock could rise after nondescript rookie season that was hampered by training camp ankle injury.

8. Josh Boyd (5th, 2013): Value could rise dramatically, based on potential displayed late in rookie season.

9. Mike Montgomery (6th, 2005): Played six seasons with Packers with eight career starts.

10. Jarius Wynn (6th, 2009): Lasted three seasons with Packers and made four starts with 4½ sacks.

11. Jerel Worthy (2nd, 2012): Too early to write him off, considering severe knee injury sustained at the end of rookie season.

12. Jeremy Thompson (4th, 2008): Packers traded up to get him but played just two seasons with three starts before career-ending neck injury.

13. Lawrence Guy (7th, 2011): The 233rd overall pick spent rookie season on injured reserve, then opened the next year on practice squad.

14. Justin Harrell (1st, 2007): Made just two career starts in four injury-plagued seasons and was Thompson’s worst pick as Packers GM.


1. Aaron Rodgers (1st, 2005): Some say the Packers got lucky when Rodgers fell to No. 24, but Thompson deserves credit for pulling trigger even though Brett Favre was still in prime.

2. Matt Flynn (7th, 2008): Perfect backup capable of coming on in relief and picking up needed victories in absence of Rodgers.

3. Brian Brohm (2nd, 2008): As 56th overall pick, was a bust with Packers after getting beaten out by Flynn.

4. Ingle Martin (5th, 2006): Lasted one season with Packers, appeared in one game but never threw a pass.

5. B.J. Coleman (7th, 2012): Struggled to learn offense and never made it out of second training camp.


1. Eddie Lacy (2nd, 2013): Thompson traded back and still managed to strike gold by landing eventual offensive rookie of the year with 61st overall pick.

2. James Starks (6th, 2010): Started in Super Bowl, now serves important backup role to Lacy, which is why Packers didn’t hesitate to re-sign him.

3. Brandon Jackson (2nd, 2007): Spent most of career as reserve but was team’s leading rusher in 2010. Probably better pass-blocker than runner.

4. Korey Hall (6th, 2007): Started 26 games at fullback in four seasons and used primarily as blocker and special teams performer.

5. Quinn Johnson (5th, 2009): Big fullback spent two seasons with Packers and appeared in 20 games with four starts.

6. Alex Green (3rd, 2011): Never fulfilled potential as the 96th overall pick.

7. Johnathan Franklin (4th, 2013): Showed potential with 103 yards rushing in second half at Cincinnati but carried just six more times for 4 yards before Week 12 neck injury ended season.

8. DeShawn Wynn (7th, 2007): Played 16 games over three seasons but produced just 332 career yards.


1. Jermichael Finley (3rd, 2008): At his peak was bona fide difference maker but didn’t always live up to potential, plus injuries sabotaged two of six seasons in Green Bay.

2. Andrew Quarless (5th, 2010): Stepped in as rookie in place of injured Finley to start on Super Bowl team. Returned from knee injury last year and is No. 1 on depth chart.

3. Ryan Taylor (7th, 2011): Picked 218th overall and lived up to promise as excellent special teams player but limited on offense.

4. D.J. Williams (5th, 2011): Lasted two seasons in Green Bay with nine career catches for 70 yards.

5. Clark Harris (7th, 2007): Never made Packers roster but has lasted six seasons in NFL as long snapper.


1. Greg Jennings (2nd, 2006): Career numbers with Packers are impressive: three 1,000-yard seasons, two 900-yard-plus seasons and two 12-touchdown years.

2. Jordy Nelson (2nd, 2008): Had breakout season in 2011 (1,263 yards, 15 touchdowns) and followed up last season with 85 catches for 1,314 yards.

3. Randall Cobb (2nd, 2011): Caught 80 passes for 954 yards in 2012 but leg injury limited him to just seven games last year. Also has three career special teams touchdowns.

4. James Jones (3rd, 2007): Reliable and productive in seven seasons with Packers before signing with Oakland in free agency this offseason.

5. Brett Swain (7th, 2008): Spent one season on practice squad before cracking Packers roster in 2009 and 2010.

6. David Clowney (5th, 2007): Never made it with Packers but lasted three NFL seasons with Jets and Panthers.

7. Terrence Murphy (2nd, 2005): Showed promise as rookie but appeared in just three games (five catches, 36 yards) before suffering career-ending neck injury on kickoff return.

8. Kevin Dorsey (7th, 2013): Spent rookie season on injured reserve.

9. Charles Johnson (7th, 2013): Landed on practice squad before getting claimed midseason by Cleveland.

10. Craig Bragg (6th, 2005): Never made it out of first training camp, spent time on practice squads of Packers, Jets and Bears.

11. Cory Rodgers (4th, 2006): Highest Thompson pick (104th overall) not to make team as a rookie, and wasn’t signed to practice squad.


1. Josh Sitton (4th, 2008): Team’s best offensive lineman and in 2012 became first Packers guard to earn a Pro Bowl berth in nearly a decade.

2. Bryan Bulaga (1st, 2010): Started as rookie right tackle on Packers’ Super Bowl championship team. Missed last 1½ seasons with injuries but when healthy has proven to be solid.

3. Daryn Colledge (2nd, 2006): Became Packers’ starting left guard as rookie and lasted five years, including Super Bowl season. Started three more seasons with Arizona.

4. David Bakhtiari (4th, 2013): Proved capable of protecting Aaron Rodgers’ blind side as rookie starting left tackle.

5. T.J. Lang (4th, 2009): Capable of playing multiple positions but has settled in as starting right guard.

6. Jason Spitz (3rd, 2006): Started first three seasons at right guard and played two more as reserve.

7. Breno Giacomini (5th, 2008): Appeared in one game as rookie, spent time on practice squad and eventually landed in Seattle, where he started on their Super Bowl title team.

8. Marshall Newhouse (5th, 2010): Started 31 games in four seasons including every game at left tackle in 2012 but was plagued by inconsistency.

9. Tony Moll (5th, 2006): Started 18 games during three seasons with Packers at guard and tackle before playing elsewhere.

10. JC Tretter (4th, 2013): Rookie season lost to broken ankle but will compete for starting center job this year.

11. Derek Sherrod (1st, 2011): Disappointing first-round pick has taken two years to recover from broken leg.

12. Allen Barbre (4th, 2007): Made seven starts at right tackle during third season but bombed out.

13. Junius Coston (5th, 2005): Spent three uneventful seasons in Green Bay, appearing in 16 games with seven starts.

14. Jamon Meredith (5th, 2009): Never played for Packers but has spent five NFL seasons with four teams, making 24 starts.

15. William Whitticker (7th, 2005): Started 14 games as rookie but didn’t make 53-man roster in his second season.

16. Caleb Schlauderaff (6th, 2011): Never played for Packers but appeared in 12 games for Jets over past three seasons.

17. Andrew Datko (7th, 2012): Never advanced beyond practice squad status with Packers.


1. Mason Crosby (6th, 2007): Other than shaky 2012 season has enjoyed productive career.

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